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Amity Shlaes News/Business. (2013) Columnist and author Amity Shlaes discusses her upcoming biography of President Calvin Coolidge.

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Calvin 14, Massachusetts 13, Calvin Coolidge 12, Wilson 9, Boston 7, Vermont 6, Washington 5, Us 5, Germany 4, Bush 4, Michael John 4, Harding 4, U.s. 3, Chicago 3, Helen 2, George W. Bush 2, Versailles 2, Europe 2, Dorothy Parker 2, Calvin Jr. 2,
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  CSPAN    Q A    Amity Shlaes  News/Business.  (2013) Columnist and author  
   Amity Shlaes discusses her upcoming biography of President...  

    February 10, 2013
    11:00 - 11:59pm EST  

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afghanistan and what has been accomplished. "washington journal >> this week on q & a author and columnist amity shlaes discusses her latest historical narrative titled coolidge >> amity shlaes author of coolidge, when did you first get interested in this president? >> i was writing my recent book forgotten man and everything was broken which forgotten man is a book about the 1930's and how
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the economy was broken. and i thought what happened before. and there was a period when it was fixed. and that was calvin coolidge. i thought i've got to go back and figure out what went right in the 1920's. >> talk about him. i mean do you read about him today? i guess the first question i'd ask, could he be elected president today? >> i think. so that's really the challenge of the book, whether we can choose someone who is as principled as he is as president. he did not believe coolidge who was president from 23 to 29 that perception is reality which he thought principle is reality. the challenge for us is we just have to have someone who is good looking and speaks well and good salesman or someone who has good principles. i think we can. we deceive ourselves we need looks alone. >> who did he put around himself?
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>> very important question. coolidge came into office from being vice president. unfortunately, the president died so there is a cabinet there and some of them are compromised. we remember harding was a period of scandal, so do you keep them? and the modern position might be clean sweep, right? >> get them out so you will have the appearance of integrity. but coolidge also prized respect for harding. those people weren't condemned yet, innocent until proven guilty and continuity for the people in market. so he kept the cabinet for a while. eventually some people left. the secretary of the interior left. coolidge did have an investigation. he named a bipartisan team to
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look into corruption in the harding administration. but he thought first of continuity when he became president in august of 1923. >> who was the secretary of the treasury? >> that would be andrew mellon who was his and harding's before him and after. >> he is like bernanke though he was treasury secretary, it was said that three presidents served under him. >> how did that relate to the mellon name that we know now, the mellon bank? >> mellon was a very wealthy man which he made much of his money which he created an empire in pittsburgh in steel alum numb. he was also what we might call a venture capitalist. he would give a man money if a man had a good idea, see what happened, maybe in the end sell his share. sometimes he butted in,
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sometimes he didn't. but he loved new ideas which he created a whole new institute to generate patents. he was not just someone who bought what people had and held on it to. he was a creator of wealth. so mellon came to this job, the job of treasury secretary with a wealth of experience and a few convictions. and his best partner among the presidents was coolidge who understood mellon. one thing we have to admire about coolidge is he understood how to work with other men. >> he died at age 60, right after he got out of the presidency. what happened? what was his wealth like? >> a lot of them did. we are blessed with the angiogram or blessed with men now know exactly how well their heart is doing.
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and it's clear he had something cardio going on. you see men dying in the politics and especially in the politics. harding died from -- coolidge said harding was tired out, wilson had that terrible stroke and never recovered. so the two proceedings presidents had been killed. coolidge was proud he made it. i don't think he was aware to the extent how bad his heart was, that something was really wrong. >> we have video of coolidge at the white house. may have been the first video of the president speaking. let's watch. >> i want the people of america to be able to work less for the government and more for themselves. i want them to have the rewards of their own industry. this is the chief meaning of freedom. until we can re-establish a condition under which the earnings of the people can be kept by the people, we are bound to suffer a very severe and
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distinct curtailment of our liberty. >> again, forget the principles that he had, but no tell prompter, reading off of a piece paper, somewhat halting high voice. do you think he could make it in the television age? >> i do. they wondered that about him then. of course, the new technology then was radio and it turned out radio was a blessing for him because he had a little bit of wire in his voice and it cut through apparently a very good radio voice. he thought he was on radio there and he read as though on the radio and his personality comes through. >> the chapter they thought was
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that i thought was most illuminating about him as a person and i'm not sure you pronounce it this way, the ode den, what is that chapter >> this is when you get to college, the outsider that's greek. he happened to go to a college that had a motto let them illuminate the earth. a college for future ministers, generally congregationist, although there were others there. and he went down there and at the time it was a greek school. ed the a lot of fraternities and most kids were in them. and what is interesting about calvin, and this is all the way through his life, he didn't seem like he was going to make it. he got there and thought he should be in one, he wrote his letter saying something about that and then he wasn't chosen. so imagine being in a very greek school with boys richer than you
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and being kind of shy and he wasn't chosen. i think he wasn't sure he wanted to be chosen and give up that much of himself to a group. but it's always nice to be asked and he was quite disappointed when he wasn't asked. and there is an interesting story there. there was another boy there at the who was actually poorer than calvin, maybe shorter and had a little disability. but he was a happy boy and much loved and went into a fraternity and coolidge knew him. and apparently he black balled coolidge at one point for a fraternity, when coolidge was going to come in he said i'll take him not the other one.
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he was one of those friends who thinks it over and changes his mind. he decided he had underrated calvin. and that was dwight went to law school and became a big partner at j.p. morgan when j.p. morgan, morgan was down. he liked underdogs and calvin sent dwight to patch it up with mexico. and that -- he had a daughter named ann more row. he went down to cheer up the he went down to cheer up the mexicans to bring comedy to the place. that's how anne morrow lindbergh became. it is a sad beginning of undergraduate life for calvin coolidge. >> when you read about him and his personality, it defies logic
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this man could end up president of the united states. because he's a silent cow, how silent was he? >> he was very silent. there was a famous story a lady said maybe i can get you to say two words at this dinner and he said you lose. >> that was dorothy parker? >> i don't think so. dorothy parker said when he died, who could tell. a very mean comment. and i want to say if you go back and look at coolidge he was a conservative hero and his tax rate was a gold standard tax rate, 25% was what he got the top rate down to and he fought like crazy. it started with wilson in the 1870's. when you look at what the social
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socialites said about coolidge in washington, how cold he was. he wouldn't meet with them. they were from families that endorsed different policies. especially roosevelt, he was a let's get them go bully. and here was coolidge, prissy and cold and not giving out favorites. so he looked as though he had been weaned on a pickle. he was from new england. farmers don't talk a lot or waive their arms about because a cow might kick them. and it was tempermental, of temperament. he was a shy person. butted the a political person. he knew if he didn't talk a lot people would stop talking. and a political leader is bombarded with requests. and his silence was his way of
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not giving into special interest. >> go back again to the college experience. you say he learned to like to speak. how did that come in and did he ever get in a fraternity? >> he got in a fraternity at the end, very end of senior year and it was a new one on campus. and he was proud. he wrote a let tore his father. the letters are beautiful. they were published and they are hard to find. i hope we can publish them again. he wrote his father. his father wasn't rich but wasn't totally poor. an important person in his town. i need the cane, i need the overcoat but it was very late, last term basically senior year that coolidge got in. i think his classmates recognized something in him when he started to speak. he was thoughtful and we want to say this is interesting about their education. there was rhetoric in education
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so the kids had to speak a lot. and the teacher he loved very much, charles garmin a lot of us like gar minute and dwight liked garmin. he began to have friends and had friends in this particular lecture and seminar and he spoke in class and the other boys said wait a minute, it's a new man, we didn't recognize him. how come we didn't know you. we messed up. in that wonderful way you can reevaluate someone in a classroom. >> i have a picture i want to show that you is not in your book. >> this is a picture from the
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courthouse yard in new hampshire where he lived. it's on the screen there and this has every job he's ever had on that statute. have you ever seen that? >> i don't think so. >> i want to read you so we can go back and talk about that because i want to know why you think he got all this. >> he was born in vermont 1872 admitted to massachusetts bar in 1857, 1898 city counselor, city solicitor. mayor of the city of north hampton. state senator, president of massachusetts senate. 1915 to 1917 governor of the state of massachusetts. and went on to be vice president in 1921 and president in 1923. i've never seen anything like that where somebody had that many jobs leading up to president. >> and he almost never lost. >> how did he do it? >> he told someone running for
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politics is my hobby. >> one was the republican party and democratic party were different. if you helped the others, they helped you. he was in the party. it was a club. it wasn't to be entirely looked down upon the way we learn in school. he climbed the greasy pole of massachusetts politics. there is some good in the party. they train you and help you work efficiently. but it's also his incredible personal perseverance and that's what i try to get at in the chapter about his time in new hampton mass. that was the county seat. after college he looked around and couldn't afford lawsuit. kind of bugged his father about it. couldn't afford it so he went to read the law. you could clerk and pass the bar that way with a firm of two men
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who liked amhearst and had been two important lawyers in the town. and he learned about his county seat. why don't i try this? where his friend went to law school at an important wall street bank law firm and then a bank. so this was the old, the thomas jefferson kind of way. don't with be a city doll. that's one of the things they read in college. and he was good to the party, the party was good to him. he practiced law on and off the whole time. he was very careful not to be corrupt. one of the issues of his youth youth -- and remember his youth is the progressive republican party so he's looking and you can see a press i have record in coolidge whether he's a state lawmaker or busing trust in theaters. in that rare was roosevelt so he's thinking is this a good policy or not, hate the big, reform government and clean it up. he liked that part and he had to work in it. he was often assigned to clean
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up government, to prune, to shut down offices. but she evaluating this whole time. i want to mention he had a mentor who was silent. i didn't know this until i began to research in massachusetts where much of his material is. that was called w. murray crane. he was a senator who helped t.r. with coal strikes. he was of the crane paper company so he was a business man and the crane paper company, we used to call -- printed the dollar. so, in a very interesting way crane knew about the u.s. economy through the dollar, through how much he printed. and crane, too, was silent, rarely spoke. he was the western massachusetts leader versus the boston leader in massachusetts politics and that was coolidge's mentor. >> how much of the crash of 1929 could be blamed on coolidge? he left in march of 1929. >> so you imagine the stock
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market -- we look at this where i teach. the stock market was 100 for a long time. then it went up 200, very high and coolidge saw a lot of recessions. that doubled. that is like our 90's. then it went to 381 that would be september 1929. coolidge didn't approve of that. he had seen a lot of recessions. everything in him knew that was wrong. he didn't believe it was the job of the executive to intervene. it was the order of the "wall street journal
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but he didn't think the president was in charge of that. the fed was also young. he looked into it. there is a record of him looking into it. charles merrill who founded merrill lynch and he went to see him and they talked about it and coolidge was terrified because he was so conservative and he knew what a crash was. but he didn't see it as a president's role and negotiate did merrill. that would be a state authority. another factor in that period was what fed policy was and we know the great fed leader died. i do not blame this on coolidge in the least. and one of the important factors you always want to look at is it was growth in the 1920's real? was it all champagne and a lie? the 1920's growth was real. most of it was real. the stock market went too high
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but it was not a lie of a decade. that is something we learned in school and this is an effort to do that revision. >> when did you first become interested in calvin coolidge? >> in forgotten man, the history of the 1930's is about how government came in starting with hoover and messed it up, messed up something good. beyond all the things, bigger government was hoover and roosevelt followed with even bigger. so i thought, "what was it they messed up?" and i had to go back and write a new beginning and show what it was that was lost in order to show the extent of the loss. and i thought this is very interesting. the economics of the 1920's, we don't discuss them that much. we think they were a lie. great gatsby, prohibition.
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people's untruths. economists say that growth is interesting and real, most of it. and we talk about for example r.c.a. was described in some of the book the crash of the stock is a big lie, just a bubble. but they had an interesting invention on its mind what we would now call television that did turn out to be profitable much later. we look in economics, sometimes markets over shoot when they were anticipating gains. the markets of the 1920's were really interesting. look at it from the point of view, the government the single thing that coolidge did is when he left office, the budget was lower than when he came in. that's the story for us now. how did he do that? the economy grew a lot. maybe more than 3% sometimes. unemployment was below 5%, the budget was balanced. how did he manage though to make the budget go lower and how did that help the economy?
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a lot, because he got the government out of the way of the economy. it's very foreign to the way we talk about the economy now. >> do you remember how big the budget was then? >> well, the number -- it depends on how you count it but the way he counted it was about $3. he was going to get it down to 3 billion and that was his holy grail and the reason this book is so long is the middle section of the book is about his effort with another new englander who was general lord from main to to cut the budget. they didn't just cut the tax rates.
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they cut budget. and this is different from our modern supply siders who tend to put the tax rates first. you'll see a photo of two lion cubs he had. someone gave him two cubs. he said you can't just cut taxes, you have to cut budget and those lion cubs were made budget bureau and tax reduction. >> where did they reside? >> in the zoo. >> he loved animals but they sent a lot of them to the zoo pretty soon. >> let's go back to the amity shlaes story. where did you grow up? >> i'm from chicago. >> where did you go to college? >> i went to yale college. >> when you first came to us in 1990 or so, you appeared on this network, you were back from germany. how long did you spend there? >> i spent a few years in germany. i got to do some journalism then joined the "wall street journal. i'm interested in germany now too. i'm interested in east europe and the future of democracy and freedom there and all that they've achieved and what happened. so my first work was on germany because i had studied germany
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and wrote a book about germany. the empire and german conception around the time of german unification. >> i want to show you yourself in 1993, 20 years ago, here you are. >> i think the country will do just fine. right now people say that it will be a big curve after reunification because of all the troubles that they have and i think they are going to be at the bottom of the curve this year. and within five, maybe ten years germany will be so consolidated and it will be a stronger country for the reunification. but they are going through a true recession now. >> how did you do then? >> they did fine. they did better than we thought.
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wondering now if germany will come out of the euro. germany is setting the model for future economy. germany is being like calvin coolidge because it's the saver country of europe. can they save grease and help the spenders? >> from that time your life has changed dramatically. you dedicate this book to who? >> my four children. my four children with my husband seth, journalist and editor. our oldest son goes to university of texas. our second son at west point. we have a daughter who is in high school and helen is in 6th grade. >> you've been fairly visible working? >> that's right i'm a columnist. >> where do you write? >> i write for bloomberg. >> how often? >> it's a regular column. i'd say less regular now because of various bumps. but i've been a columnist for ten years.
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>> council on foreign relations, are you still with them? >> no. i was a fellow in economic history for years and i've recently moved over to a new foundation, president bush 43's foundation which is going to be wonderful. i'm interested in presidential history. president bush is a wonderful leader with an enormous archive attached in dallas. so i like to research. i like coolidge's history and want to help it. i wanted to learn at a presidential center and work in economics. i'm in a program called the 4% growth program which is about economic growth. coolidge had it, what's that mystery, what was it. and the project looks at different ways to get stronger growth.
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we know that makes everything easier including the entitlement program. >> do you still teach? >> yes. >> what do you teach? >> the forgotten man. the economics of the 1930's which are controversial so it's fun. >> if we followed you around the last few years where would we find you? >> that's important to say. i'm a trustee of the coolidge memorial foundation which is a great entity. and if you want to know coolidge you go to vermont. it's a beautiful village, well preserved the foundation is preserved. the foundation is there. we have our own foundation there where we do some education. we have some material understand fact, this summer with the bush center we are hosting a high school economic debate. how perfect for coolidge around
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the time that is the anniversary of his midnight swearing in by his father in early august. so a lot of young debaters will come over and debate at the coolidge place. once you've been there, you see how simple his background was. his father road him down the road ten miles to get him to high school which and what he overcame to become president. i want to mention some other coolidge places. the forbes lie i blare in massachusetts. there is the archive in vermont where many of the coolidge papers can be found. i encourage any coolidge scholar to visit there too. >> what do you think calvin coolidge who was so frugal personally would think you got a grant for the humanities. >> he would be ambivalent about. that he didn't like federal money to be spent on culture. once in a while he would do it and you see that in his own --
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president coolidge doesn't have a presidential library with a staff funded by washington the way president roosevelt or hoover or presidents bush have. he was old time. he thought it's a wonderful story, also love for his wife. and you thought a president should raise all of the money for himself. he loved his wife, grace, very much and she sacrificed a lot. she was originally a teacher of the deaf at the clark school in massachusetts. so he told his friend clarence raise me money. and he said anything calvin.
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very close to the "wall street journal." anything calvin. okay, i'll raise money. and everyone thought it should be for the coolidge archive right? that's what it's supposed to be. and he wanted it to be at the forbes library. calvin said no, let the money be raised from my wife's charity the clark school for the deaf. so he took the money that would have preserved him and instead poured it into her charity. that's a great gift of love. when you think about it, you see why. maybe he was a little frail. she had given up a lot for him. she called marriage a harness. she loved him but she knew it was a harness. he wanted to pay her back and he wanted her to be the important lady in the town and she was because she was the chief patron and done nor for the clark school for the deaf. they gave the money to that. cut off your knows to spite your
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he gave his money to her. >> we notice a lot of this is happening today, you read the diaries of his doctor? why are the presidential doctors publishing their diaries? >> some of it is published, some of it's not. i'm not wild about the doctor, the doctor is creepy. >> why? >> marriage is a complicated thing and no one can ever know all of it. and i don't envy the white house first couples because it's a court and everyone's edging to favor one or the other, and the first lady has a court and they fight with each other. they had a minimum of that but it was there and the doctor sided with ms. coolidge who was a wonderful person, the extrovert to his introvert. but he knew she was the extrovert and she knew why he was the introvert and their
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marriage is admirable. >> how did you get on the foundation board of the calvin coolidge? >> just out of affection for it. it is a worthy place that requires support and if i can do anything to help -- i'm not rich but if i can bring others there to support it, i will. we have a great director there. mr. serra. and it's coolidge's mecca. >> where is the foundation head headquartered? >> it changes people's lives. you drive north where there say
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there a ski resort. on the big road, it's not hard to get too. it's not far. you drive up and you'll see something amazing. you can stay in one of the sky resorts like hawk mt. it's not that far from dartmouth college. >> it's not vermont and it's simple and it will change your life and your children's if you see it. you can see the room upstairs where he worked. you can see the church where one of his ancestors bought a pew and got involved in the town records too. the coolidges were allergic to debt. is a story of how you overcome debt as a country or individual. there was an investor who was a debtor. that's what the book opens with because this was their economics, their business, their small farms were so important in their lives. and so you can have a feel for how hard it was in vermont in that time. >> got some video from a program we did in 1999 on presidents and his son john was still alive. he's very old in this.
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>> how old was he when he died? >> i don't know. >> in his nineties. >> he was born around 1906. >> let's watch this and you have to listen carefully but he's talking about his brother calvin. [video] >> do you have any fond memories of your brother you'd like to relate? >> you were together. [inaudible] >> i had trouble keeping one him in school. he was a much better scholar than i was. he was quiet and always joining
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[inaudible] >> so the impact of calvin jr. on the coolidge presidency? >> like a lincoln story. it's an amazing tragedy. calvin jr. was about 16 and he got a blister on the tennis court of the white house and the blister went septic and he died within about a week. if you can imagine from a blister to death just before antibiotics came in. so what a story and there was nothing they could do about it. coolidge had lost his sister. he had lost his mother and now he was losing calvin who was the luck child of the family. you can hear from a happy guy, a very clever, extremely loyal and he didn't know what to do. i think other historians have
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told the story of the death of calvin as the end of the coolidge presidency. it was in 1924, he was elected that year on his own four more years. they say, well he was depressed for the next four years. i don't see that. it's not a story of yes but. the death of calvin yes but. he persevered withstanding a blow. no one could understand the life of their family and you see a lot of sorrow and anger and trouble. he took a tree from the lot of his family and they planted it somewhere around the white house. i've not been able to discern what happened to that tree. i'm not sure it made it. you can't always take a spruce and replant it in washington soil. but they planted it so they could see where calvin had been.
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the joy of presidency went out from me. but i see him pursuing in a grand campaign his civil war was the tax campaign. he poured his energy into that instead and did prevail in the tax campaign in 1926. he won the presidency outstandingly. can you imagine your son dies and you win in 1924 as president beating the third party, the progressive party and the democrats combined. the republicans had the absolute majority in 1924 even though a lot of the progressives were former republicans. so he was tremendously popular because of his perseverance in part. but this story of calvin just came over them. and you can see after the presidency mrs. coolidge felt free to write about calvin. they didn't go out in sorrow about the child. afterwards there is a poem that we have that she wrote and of
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course it changed their life forever. calvin was child who expresses the things you want expressed but i want to give credit to john for opening the window to calvin so lovingly, not competing with him. calvin said when he worked in the tobacco field, that's the photo -- someone said if my dad were vice president or president i wouldn't work in any tobacco field. calvin said if your dad were my dad, you would. the coolidges wanted their kids to work. they emphasized the virtue. what a contrast -- it's a big contrast from the roosevelt's where the kids ran around the house and it was fun. you can see this and they were a bit rambunctious. the coolidges were rigid with their kids about behaving in the white house. coolidge was extremely hard on john. and the low point of his life
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are the letters to john which are in the barry archive which he berates john for not performing well in college. every tragedy like the loss of a child has an effect. they suffered from the loss of calvin. but they did persevere. and what i like about john, i wish i had known him. he was so good about preserving his father's legacy. he understood and he was a wonderful man in that way. he had incredible empathy. for example the cheese factory in plymouth notch which was the president's father's, they wanted to make money from dairy. it's always a struggle. they had a cheese factory. before refrigeratoon, cheese was the way you transmitted protein.
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john started that again. it was important to coolidge because he vetoed agricultural subsidies. farmers didn't have much money. >> how do you working now for george w. bush foundation, how do you line out the fact that he had a $5 trillion addition to the debt? >> these are questions we have to ask a lot of presidents. and i am historically and economically oriented person and i see that war cost a lot of money. so let's say that first of all. but one of the splendid things about george w. bush is his great big spirit. if i came up to the president
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and i don't report to him. it's a great foundation doing work in many areas and said president bush you were wrong about medicare part d. he would say maybe i was or he would say i wasn't wrong. but he has no trouble creating an intellectual home for people with different ideas that might say something that might not be totally where he was or flatter him. he is like coolidge. he is not a narcissist, he is not a vain man, president bush. he wants to everybody is and there is a connection there with both bushes. it's their sense of service, their spiritual side. their piety. they know that it's an office that they were serving in. i see in president bush too a very little vanity about the foundation. that's like coolidge after he was out of office, it wasn't about him. that's hard to do. once you've been the most important person in the world.
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once you've been on television all your life, they are not vain. how do you overcome that and suppress vanity and everybody serve? >> vice president bush became president because he was the vice president with ronald reagan and his son became president because of the fame of the name bush. you say two things that made coolidge president was the boston police strike and the fact he was picked as vice president. so let's start with the vice president thing. how did he, and it wasn't a foregone conclusion. how was he chosen? >> how was coolidge chose? this is very important. imagine now we have the problem of public sector unions. we might like the people in them but they are asking for a lot. reagan had the air traffic controllers.
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they were in a union. they were good guys but asking a lot. in the case of reagan, they were jeopardizing public safety. planes are important. they can crash. coolidge had an analogous situation as governor of massachussetts. governor had a say in the police story in boston. the police women of boston went on strike after world war i. they were nice guys, they were underpaid. there was a terrible inflation nobody was acknowledging. their station houses had rats. little rodents chewed on their helmets. 18 ways they deserved a race and better treatment. nonetheless they walked off and this is a very rough time in american history. there was chaos and violence and rioting in looting in boston. so coolidge was on the team, the leader of it that fired these policemen. they went in a union. not even a radical union. the union that was a favorite of president wilson. but coolidge said no right to
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strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere anytime. those were the three phrases, no right to strike against the public safety. i'm drawing a line. and he was incredibly scary about this from a political point of view. he had an election a few months away. he was famous for getting irish vote. the policemen were irish. he's firing them. they're nice. what a bold move. why was it at all good? nobody knew at first. the reason it was good was there is a limit to what a public sector should do and jeopardize the city's safety. after that move the unions in the cities didn't do that anymore and the cities felt safer and commerce was easier after that rough period which he received national recognition from wilson who waffled on the
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same issue for his bravery. he did win election again even though he had turned his back on these irishmen. even though he felt terrible about it. that gave him stature and that's why he was chosen. he thought he'd be chosen for president. >> you paint a picture about wilson going across the country promoting the league of nations. at the same time that coolidge is governor of massachusetts dealing with this strike. how did they stay in touch in those days and what did wilson contribute to that whole debate? >> they didn't really stay in touch. coolidge might call the navy for help and you do see some traffic from roosevelt who was at navy in this whole issue of the strike and the port city need to
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police it, need to feed it, you know. would there be a general strike. but wilson communicated through sam who had gone to versailles. the union statesman, his friend who kept labor quiet during the war. >> samuel, what did he run? >> american federation of labor. so he was the good labor guy. >> why did he go to versailles? >> because american workers was important. we knew there was going to be revolution in europe. the soviet union is being formed. this was 1918 testify 1820. we had unemployment in the u.s. our budget had gone up. it went to 18 billion. 18 times. we wondered whether we were bankrupt. all this is going on, so you need to keep the police. the police in boston were
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affiliated thinking they would be safe because they were on president wilson's side. >> a whole bunch of them were fired? >> they were all fired except the ones who stayed. the ones we call scabs. the ones -- they hired new ones and that was to make a point. that is rough justice of an old fashioned variety we find incredible today. but wilson waffled and if you read in that chapter, you'll see him on one day he's on the side of the public sector unions. he had his own strike to deal with. in washington he was in charge of washington d.c. he was preoccupied statesman. i have to keep this quiet so i can sell the league of nations. the president has so many issues, very tired, about to have a stroke. and there are boston policemen and they didn't know how to deal wit. and the governor of
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massachusetts deals with it and says, that was coolidge. and the president says i accept that because the unions can't go too far. >> how was calvin coolidge picked to be vice president? >> he thought he would win. >> for president? >> yes, he did. because he had this national stature of showing how tough he was. but he had a problem. henry cabbot lodge, the senior senator from massachusetts, a great snob, an institution of the senate. the, not nominal, but the leader of the senate. he was vain and it was about lodge and the coolidges all over massachusetts, coolidge was some kind of swamp back wood coolidge. not the kind of coolidge that lodge knew from harvard. he didn't really take calvin coolidge seriously. he i had to with him and told him he might be a good
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candidate, other times not. if your own state isn't for you, at the convention in chicago, surely you're not going to be nominated to be the president. he didn't go to that convention in chicago. we heard about the smoke filled room and harding was chosen to be president. but there was a rebellion the senate was running the whole thing, the republican convention. and out of that rebellion someone said i'm going to nominate a governor. they thought lame root would be an in-between, mild republican progressive from the midwest. they said let's get a governor. so it was a werner who said coolidge for the vice president. he's a governor, let's have him.
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there was a lot of pause all of a sudden at the convention. and that's how coolidge got it. i would estimate to lodge's displeasure. >> you say that after calvin coolidge was elected in 1924 as the president elected after the death of harding and all of that, that his vice president was charles dawes and they didn't like each other. >> some of that was his own sanctimony. he was the deputy from hell. >> how did he get picked? >> he was a wonderful man. he was in charge of procurement in world war i, getting stuff for the generals to the front line. he gave a famous speech where someone was picking at how he spent money to get stuff to the front line to win the war which he said we would do anything to win that war. then he went the other way. flamboyant figure who and was in charge of cutting the budget
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after the war. and a crucial job we should look out when we are writing a new budget. because they had this budget law. so he was a man, when nixon went china he did cut the budget. he helped germany wheeling them money. the germans paid everyone else back. what a statesman. chicagoland family. but he would go his own way. and what infuriated coolidge was he had some close confirmation hearings planned and dozen used his inauguration to get up and berate the senators for their poor behavior and abuse of the filibuster essentially. and he antagonized the senate rather than following his orders
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from calvin to appease, make friends, grease the wheels for the nominations to come. >> you talk about calvin coolidge having breakfast at the white house and a lot of members of the senate calling in sick, not wanting to come. >> that's right. he wasn't a get along guy. harding was a get along guy. coolidge comes in, he was a governor. he sat and prided over the senate. i don't think that was fun to him. when he formally prided over the senate of the state of massachusetts where you can vote not just in a tie but you have more power as the head of the senate of the state of massachusetts in that body than you do as vice president here. so he hadn't really liked the senators. lodge made his life hell there when he was vice president. but i want to say i think it was his virtue that made them not want to come. coolidge would host vermont breakfasts and usher ike hoover would round up the people.
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he didn't like coolidge. coolidge was not a good tipper and i kept a diary. low and behold everyone loves face time with a president. the senators didn't go. so there is a roster of excuses. sick, sick senator reid. wife sick or friends sick. and hover maliciously kept a record of the negative rsvp's. but when i look at why the senators turned down the breakfast, they knew he wasn't going to give them anything. imagine the incredible pressure, prosperity has been there for years, the budget should grow. the farms need something. let's national lies power. let's give the vets more. one mind cat after the other and
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coolidge was so unsatisfying. he always said no and after a while they turned their back on him. >> i don't know that they are in the book but he was offered presidency of amers and he said amhearst and he said it's easier to control a congress than a college faculty. >> that makes sense. there was a wonderful rage rogue president of amhearst some viewers will know michael from wisconsin where he went later and created this interesting experimental college as a great legacy. there but michael john was progressive in a way that the amhearst men weren't used to. and he basically wasn't friendly to world war i. and that was as i divisive as the iraq war has been lately. it was a knife through society.
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so the alums were on one side and michael john was on the other. and eventually they forced him out. he didn't go easily and coolidge was clearly on the side that forced him out. and he wasn't happy with that because they could all see michael john was talented. it was a hard call. and they were all of a sudden these nice men had negative articles about them in the new republican when they had fancied themselves as fine fellows. michael john spent quite a bit of money. he borrowed and overspent in his personal life. this was a burr in their side. they were unpopular for ejecting this university president and he didn't want to get involved in those politics. there was also a new head named just before he left office. >> at age 60 he died. he gave $700,000 to his wife grace, what he willed to her.
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that would be worth $12 million today. >> he wasn't poor but where did he make it? >> he had another career as a successful journalist. calvin coolidge columnist, and i like that about him too. i hope to build some things around that. coolidge wrote a column every day. >> how long? >> 500 words >> did you read a lot of them? >> i did. i have a book that was put together. only a year. he stopped after a year just like he decided not to run again in 1928. he stopped. he said that's enough. i've done them. but a lot of papers took the column. he made $75,000 as u.s. president. he made more as a columnist. it was an embarrassing amount of money. because remember how many papers we had then.
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imagine every website paid you a little. i believe he made 200,000 alone from the column. in hard times that was a lot. but it was honest work. he wrote the column. he was exceedingly popular. >> do we have time for a story about that? >> very little time but go ahead. >> someone paid him to write two ten columns for $2,000 each. they publish only six which he summons the editor and i wrote ten and you published only six and what does the editor say in response? >> but we paid you which is the standard answer. >> and coolidge said maybe those columns weren't good enough here is a check for the columns you didn't print, $8,000 back. >> why would he give back the money if the contract said $20,000. he was entitled to keep it. because he wanted to do business with the other party again which he wanted to be a good citizen. very rare believe you now. and i admired that.
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>> with our remaining 30 seconds seconds, which one of your children will end up being the amity shlaes of the 2025 calendar year, or writer? >> i'm going to say helen. >> which one would be the teacher? >> very difficult questions i'm going to say -- i can't tell you. they are all going to be very good. this is dedicated to them for their own perseverance. they all persevere and i'm very proud of them. >> we are out of time but is there anything new about calvin coolidge you found in this book? >> that he struggled with debt and found a solution as we do today. >> the picture on the book is from where? >> i don't know. but it looks to me beginning of
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of the presidency 1924, something like that. any way before his son died, very happy. >> thank you amity shlaes, author of coolidge. >> for a d.v.d. of this program call 1-877-662-7726 or visit us at q-and-a.org.